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in the Old Testament, means nothing else than literally 6 children,' which it is not pretended he ever had; and how could he “ prolong his days," when he was cut off in his 33d year. 5. Besides who were “the strong and mighty," with whom he divided the spoil ? were they the twelve fishermen of Galilee ? and what was the spoil divided ? In a word, the literal application of this prophecy to Jesus is now given up by the most learned Hebrew Scholars, who allow, that the literal sense of the orig-inal can never be understood of Him. See Priestley's notes on the Scriptures, in loco; and the context before and after.
We have now come to the last subject proposed to be considered in this ch. viz. Daniel's prophecy of the seventy weeks. The “ instar omnium," of the prophetical proofs of Christianity; and which was for ages held up to the view of the unbelieving race," as cutting oft beyond doubt their hope of Israel’ from ever appearing, since the time so distinctly foretold had elapsed. But such is the instability of human opinions, that it was at length suspected, and at last ascertained by the learned that “the stubborn Israelites” had some reason for denying that prophecy any voice in the affair.
During many years, one learned man after another, . had amused himself with destroying the system of his predecessor, and replacing it with his own, not a whit better, but tending to the same end, viz. to make the prophecy of the seventy weeks tally and fit with the event of the crucifiction. - At length Marsham, a learned Englishman, declared, and demonstrated, that his predecessors in this enquiry had been grossly mistaken, for that the prophecy in all its parts was totally irrelevant, and irreconcileable with the time of the crucifixion. The appearance of his book put all the Theologians of that age in an uproar! But many learned Christians in the last, and present century, now freely acknowledge, that Daniel is not on their side, but as much a Jew as his brethren.
This celebrated prophecy literally translated from the Original is as follows. Dan. ix. 24, &c. “ Sev. enty weeks are determined upon thy people, and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity,
and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal the vision, and prophecy, and to annoint the inost Holy, Fi. e. the sanctum sanctorum, or Holy of Holies.] Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the word to restore, and build Jerusalem, unto the annointed Prince; shall be seven 'weeks ; and (in) threescore, and two weeks the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublous times. And af. ter three score and two'weeks shall the annointed (one) be cut off, and be without a successor ; [Heb. 6. and not, or none to him."] and the city and the Sanctuary, shall be destroyed by the people of the Prince that shall come ; and the end thereof shall be with a flood, and unto the end of the war desolations are deterinined. And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week, and half the week (i. e. in the midst of the week) he shall cause the sacrifice, and the oblation to cease, and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate, even until the consummation, and that (is) determined be poured upon the desolate.”
This is the prophecy on which such stress has been laid, as pointing out the precise time of the conring of the Messiah : and I shall fully demonstrate that it hath not the most distant reference to that event. 'And for the better explanation of the prophecy, it is proper that we attend a little to the context.
* In the preceeding ch, of Daniel it is said, that when Daniel was informed of the vision of the two thousand, and three hundred days, he sought for the meaning ; but not rightly understanding it, he judged, that that great number was a contradiction to the word of God as delivered by Jeremiah, concerning the redemption at the end, of seventy years : (Jer. xxv. 11, 12. and cli. xxix. 10.) and from thence he concluded that the cap. tivity was prolonged on account of the sins of the Nation, Tbis doubt arose from his not understanding the prophecy, and therefore the Angel said unto him, “ [ am now come forth to give thee skill, and understanding." And he proceeds to inform him, that as soon as he began to pray and God saw his perplexity, the roy
* Tbc remainder of this chapter is taken from Levi, and IVagonseil
al command went forth from him, that he should conte to Daniel to make him understand the truth of those matters, that were to come to pass in future time. And as the angel Gabriel had explained to him the vision from whence his doubt arose, it was imcumbent on him to perfect the explanation : and that is what is meant by the expression " to show," i. e. as I began the explanation, the commandment was that I should finish it.
Before I proceed to give the Jewish explanation of the prophecy, it is proper to show in what manner the answer of the angel in it agreed to Daniel's question, and also the reason of his using the term weeks, and not years, or times, as in the other visjons.
It appears, that Daniel, from the words of Jeremiah, perceived that God would visit all the nations, and punish them for their sins; as may be observed from the following words. 6 Thus saith the Lord God of Israel unto me. Take the wine cup of this fury at my hand, and cause all the nations to whom I send thee to drink it.” Jer. xxv. 15. He then mentions first Jerusalem, afterwards the king of Egypt, Tyre, Sidon, and all the Isles beyond the sea, and many others; and at last the king of Sheshak, or Babylon.. .
He also further perceived, that the visitation of each nation would be at the end of seventy years, as Isaiah observes of Tyre 66 and it shall come to pass in that day that Tyre shall be forgotten seventy years." Isaiah xxiii. 15, The same of Babylon. 6 And it shall come to pass when seventy years are accomplished, I will, punish the king of Babylon." Jer. xxv. 12, and as it is observed in the next verse, “ All that is written in this Book which Jeremiah hath prophecied, against all the nations.” From whence it appears, that as the visitation of Babylon was to be in seventy years, so was that of the other nations to be ; for so had the wisdom of God decreed to wait according to this number. For which reason, and because the Prophets say that the restoration of Israel is to be contemporaneous with the destruction of their enemies, Daniel appears to have judged, that the sins of his nation would be done away by the seventy years of the captivity of Babylon. And therefore the Angel informed him of his error; by tell.
ing him, that this was not to be the case with his na. tion ; for that their wickedness was come up before God, and their sin was very grievous ; and that there. fore their sins would not be atoned for by seventy years, as in the case of the rest of the nations, to whom he allowed seventy years to see if they would repent ; and if not, then he would punish them. But as for Israel, he would not only wait seventy years, but seven times seventy years ; [for thus it is literally, in the Heb. the words translated seventy weeks,” are literally “ seventy sevens,"] after which if they had not repented and reformed, their kingdom should be cut off, and they return into captivity, to finish an atonement for their transgressions. Hence the cause of Daniel's question is evident; and the propriety of the Angel's answer to the question is manifest ; as also the expression of weeks or sevens.
These seventy weeks are without doubt four hundred' and ninety years, the time elapsed from the destruction of the first Temple, till the destruction of the second. · This it seems was the more necessary for the Angel to inform him of; because Daniel judged, that after their return from Babylon, by means of that visitation only, all their sins would be done away. For which reason the angel showed him that it would not be so, [for the return from Babylon was not a perfect redemption, because there was not a general collection of all that were in captivity, even all the tribes, save only a few of Judali and Benjamin, and those not the most respectable. And after their return, they were not free, but were under the dominion of the Persians, Greeks, and Romans. And although they at one time, threw off their yoke and had kings of the Asmonean and and Herodian families, yet was there no king among them of the seed of David, neither had they the Shekinah nor the Urim, and Thummim, all which is a manifestation that it was not a perfect redemption, but only a visitation, with which God was pleased to visit them; so that they were allowed to build a Temple to the Lord, by the permission of Cyrus, and according to the measure given by him. This was that they might be the better enabled to do the works of repentance during : the time allowed, and thus 6 make atonement; and thus finish the transgression; and make an end of sins; and make reconciliation for iniquity;" and thus, at the end of the time assigned even “ seventy weeks,” they would bring in “everlasting righteousness ;" ii e. universal virtue, and felicity, throughout the world, when Jehovah should be known, worshipped, and obeyed by all mankind. But if they did not repent, and amend, if they did evil, as their fathers, then their kingdom was to be cut off at the expiration of the seventy weeks; which in fact took place.]
After the Angel had thus expressed himself in general terms, he descended to particulars; and laid down three propositions (if I may be allowed the term,) or periods.
First. “ Know therefore, and understand, (that) from the going forth of the word to restore, and build Jerusalem, unto the annointed Prince, (shall be) seven weeks."
That is, it shall be seven weeks or forty nine years from the destruction of the first Temple, to Cyrus, 66 the annointed Prince," who shall give leave to build the second. [With regard to the importof the phrase
6i the going forth of the word," I refer the reader to , Levi's Letters to Priestley, and shall here only con
cern myself with settling the meaning of the expression of 6 the annointed Prince.”] Many Christians have objected to the term Messiah, or annointed being applie ed, as in our interpretation to Cyrus a Heathen Prince ; and they apply it themselves to Jesus of Nazareth. But that the term, or appellation Messiah can be applia ed to Cyrus is evident; since we find it so applied by God himself in the xlv. ch. of Isaiah. " Thus saith the Lord to his annointed, to Cyrus." 2. It is a singu. lar fact, that the appellation « Messiah" is never applied to the expected deliverer of the Israelites in the whole Bible, except perhaps, in the ii. Psalm. It is an appel. : lation indifferently applied to kings, and" Priests, and Prophets ; to all who were anointed, as an induction into their office, and has nothing in it peculiar and exclusive ; but the application of it to the expected Deliv. erer of Israel originated in and from the Targums. 3.